I love buffets. I love standing before that great, long trough of food, knowing that the choices before me are mine to make and that I will go away a happy man.
But I have one small problem: I just do not know what to do with those tiny ears of miniature corn. Those little yellow things found in every buffet the world over. And always in the same position; about halfway down the salad bar. They seem out of place, like an overflowing raft of vegetable refugees riding on a sea of crushed ice.
I am never sure if they are meant to be eaten or are considered purely decorative, like those hardened gourds in formal place settings. Since buffet connoisseurs usually have a token few on their plate I figure they must be edible. But have you ever tried to eat one?
First off, they sag. Held up by one end they droop depressingly downwards, as if they don’t have the energy to care anymore. And that sickly yellow color. Patients suffering from malarial fever have better color in their cheeks than this.
Trying to hold onto them is almost impossible. Grab it with one hand and you risk squirting it onto your neighbor’s lap. Using two hands looks more than a little foolish.
I once tried cutting off the pointed tip and impaling each blunt end onto a fork. But a woman seated across the room said that when I held the contraption up to my mouth, it appeared as if there were antennae sticking out of my ears.
And once you have a handle on them, how are they supposed to be eaten? Do you go round and round, or end to end? This is probably a moot point since humans did not evolve the correct dental pattern to eat such things. Rodents and mice are well ahead of the human race on this one.
But let’s say your teeth are especially nimble and you manage to extract a few microscopic kernels, and the tiny cob is now sitting all alone in the middle of your plate. What do you do with it? Slide it under a napkin? Hide it in a nearby planter? A child once told me that even the cobs are edible but that cannot possibly be true. Besides, they have the consistency of week-old lettuce.
Maybe they should be regarded in the same way as caviar: a fine delicacy which, despite its snob appeal, is somewhat repulsive if you think about it too much. If these corns are a delicacy, should I be impressed? What if the Queen came to visit: should I offer her both the Russian beluga caviar and the miniature corns, or skip the caviar?
Concerns like these have a nasty habit of ruining an appetite. So, like any good man I have found that the solution to these questions is to simply disregard them. You put on the blinders, glide right past the entire salad bar and head for heart of the buffet.
At this point I usually spot the mountain of deep fried prawns and become, once again, a happy man. Even if the jumbo prawns are in reality, just miniature lobsters.